Review: The Castle (The Storefront Theatre)

The Castle

The Storefront Theatre’s The Castle, playing now in Toronto, has great acting but a poor script

Howard Barker’s script for The Castle is notoriously extreme, and has been described as actively hostile to its audience: not only opaque and twisted, but calculated to unnerve, upset, distress and bother. When he heard I was seeing it, a friend of mine (who had worked on it in university) even warned me off: “The Castle is a protracted excuse for men to say the word cunt a lot of times with impunity.”

The good news is that The Storefront is, as always, a singularly good acting company, here supplemented with a dazzling array of local stars. A cast of this caliber can work miracles, and often they do — but the script is such heavy lifting that by the end I was regretting not ducking out at intermission.

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Review: The Road to Paradise (Crow’s Theatre and Human Cargo)

The Road to Paradise, now on stage in Toronto, offers “admirably balanced empathy”

The Road to Paradise (presented by Crow’s Theatre and Human Cargo), currently playing at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, is a harrowing look at the traumatic experiences of those involved with the controversial Canadian military operations in Pakistan and Kandahar. Easily one of the best productions I’ve seen all year, The Road to Paradise smartly refuses to provide any easy answers.

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Lion in the Streets (Theatre by Committee)

Lion in the Streets Poster

Theatre by Committee presents Lion in the Streets on stage in Toronto

Lion in the Streets, the surreal story of a murdered 9-year-old and the community where she lost her life, opened last weekend at the Glad Day Bookshop. Put on by the seven-member collective Theatre By Committee, the show has moments of extremely compelling drama but due to the bizarre nature of the script these often give way to moments of confusion for the audience.

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Review: Armstrong’s War (Canadian Rep Theatre)

Armstrong's WarArmstrong’s War avoids the typical clichés, now playing on the Toronto stage

When I first heard the premise of Armstrong’s War (Canadian Rep Theatre) — a 12 year old, paraplegic Pathfinder scout attempts to earn a badge by reading to a 21-year-old Afghanistan War veteran in a rehab hospital — I feared it would be Lifetime Original Movie-style saccharine, ending with hugs and tears and life lessons learned.

I shouldn’t have worried. The play comes with some serious pedigree (playwright Colleen Murphy is a Governor General’s award winner, and it’s directed by Ken Gass), and though it does feature some tears and maybe even a lesson, it’s more unflinching than saccharine, and leaves us with questions rather than comforts.
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Review: Sex Tape Project (fu-GEN Theatre)

fuGEN - Sex Tape Project 4Sex Tape Project, a series of three plays in Toronto, explores intimacy and voyeurism

Voyeurism: I dig it. My favourite Hitchcock film is Rear Window. It’s no stretch to imagine myself getting in trouble for seeing something I shouldn’t have through a pair of binoculars. fu-GEN Theatre’s Sex Tape Project appeals to that part of me that yearns to see private lives unfold behind distant windows. Continue reading Review: Sex Tape Project (fu-GEN Theatre)

Review: Boys from the Burbs (The Empty Room)

Photo from Boys from the Burbs

The latest play from The Empty Room explores young suburban life in Toronto

Suburbs often get a bad rep as the place fun forgot. When you’re young, cash-strapped and don’t own a car, there’s not a lot of fun to be had – especially compared to life in the big city. Following the tale of four young boys, Boys from the Burbs (The Empty Room) shows us that not all is as it seems behind the cookie-cutter picket fences and seemingly dull façade of a suburban town. Continue reading Review: Boys from the Burbs (The Empty Room)

Review: Robin Hood (Amicus Productions)

Robin Hood is full of slapstick humour, playing at the Papermill Theatre in Toronto

Robin Hood by Amicus Productions is currently playing at the Papermill Theatre. I have seen the tale of Robin Hood done in various ways. I’ve seen action versions of the story, comedies, and even an animated version with a dashing fox. I was excited to see a brand new twist on the man who steals from the rich and gives to the poor.

This Robin Hood, written by Don Nigro and directed by Chris Coculuzzi, began with two young minstrels standing in front of the curtain.Their song transported us to the Sherwood Forest. The tone was sad, as if Robin Hood was a tragic hero from long ago, and they were the bards who kept his legend going. I was surprised to see once the actors on stage started speaking that the tone wasn’t serious at all. The play had immediately switched into a comedy.
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Review: Late Company (Why Not Theatre & Surface/Underground)

Photo of Liam Sullivan in Late Company by Dahlia Katz

Late Company is a show “full of emotion” that will “take you on a journey” on stage in Toronto

When I chose to review Jordan Tannahill’s Late Company at The Theatre Centre, I was interested to see how it compared to Herman Koch’s novel The Dinner as both share the same premise. Two couples –- one a political family –- sit down to discuss their teenage sons and the horror that boys that age can reap.

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